Koh Tao Aug 29, 2015

October 29, 2015 2:25PM JST

This is my last day on Koh Tao, and also last day for my Advanced Adventurer course.

My phone was broken – it was dropped several times from my upper bed and its screen was already damaged before travelling to Thailand. I had no alarm to wake myself up. I asked two German girls who I went to the club Castle to set the alarm for me and call me at 5AM. Actually, I had to move to their new building as one of the girls had bedbugs bitten all over her arm and she had to avoid bedbugs. When I entered the new room, I discovered that she was sleeping in an uncovered tent on her bed, to avoid bedbugs, of course, which I doubted that helped since bedbugs are extremely tiny and hard to spot.

I was still sleeping hard when they woke me up at 5AM. I did not even hear the alarm, which is quite rare for me. The girls were awesome. They were only 20 years old and helped me a lot. When I got back to Japan after my trip and several weeks later, I sent them the picture of us at the Castle and one of them was amazed to see that I woke up and left the room in 30 seconds, which I literally did. I did not even brush my teeth and headed out straight. I could not risk missing my last dive. I had to carry all my belongings to the dive shop as I had to ride the Roctopus truck after my dive and catch the ferry that afternoon.

Just like the other morning dive, I was the first to arrive. I dropped my belongings in the office and packed up the dive equipment into the dive bag and was ready to go.

Our first dive of the day was at back at Chumphon Pinnacle. The course was Deep Dive, diving up to 30m. This was the main part of the Advanced Adventurer, to dive up to 30m. Because pressure increases as we go deeper underwater, I had pressure and nitrogen narcosis tests. It was certainly very different situation down there – I had to hold and squeeze my nostril more often.

The instructor brought an egg and a mysterious fruit to show me how it was like that deep in the water. She gently whacked the egg on my mask and the yolk went straight out from inside. The yolk was flowing in the water – a ball of yolk. We poked at it and it moved like was floating in the air. At the end, Rachel roughly separately the egg and gave to the fish to eat. Next, it was time to bring the mysterious fruit and I need to guess what the fruit is, as she said that fruit can change colour and form. She actually lost the fruit some time when we dove. Later on the boat, the instructor talked to the other team’s instructor Dante, who was teamed up with a Malaysian couple, and a 8-year gap diver from France (I think). Dante did not get the egg open but got the mysterious fruit successfully being tested. It was interesting how our situations were opposite.

Some of the fish we saw during this dive was different, as it was much deeper than earlier dives (Note: the notes I put after fish is some notes that I have included on my dive log):

  • Giant grouper
  • White eyed moral eel
  • Longfin batfish
  • One spot snapper
  • Chevron barracuda (school in circle)
  • Great barracuda (alone)
  • Spanish mackerel (very far, huge, alone)

The second dive was wreck dive course, with a real sunken World War II ship, HTMS Sattakut. Since I could not bring the camera on this trip, travel blogger Alex in Wanderland has provided pictures at this site, back in 2011 (There isn’t really difference in the 4-year gap). The dive site was 20-30m, rated as Advanced. I got to dive around the ship and see how it was like to dive at a wreck site.

Featured image
Fusilier. HTMS Sattakut dive spot.
Source: Dive 4 Photos

Some of the fish we saw at the dive spot was quite different from the fish we saw at other dives. The favourite fish of this dive was the colorful parrotfish:

It was amazing to see huge school of barracuda around us. It was common to see these fish at this location, and my instructor said that they usually see them every dive at the same location and time. For me, I would love to see huge fish like dolphins and whales, and huge fish like barracuda and mackerel while scuba diving. Smaller fish is generally associated with corals and they are typically common among dive sites (well for me, at least, bigger fish interest me more).

Parrotfish. Photo: Richard Ling, 2005.
  • Parrotfish
  • Fusilier (lots, common in every dives)
  • Gold saddle rabbitfish
  • Blue spotted trout
  • Sweetlips
  • One spot snapper

As we got to the surface, I realized that we were quite far from our boat. I had to kick hard to get back as there was slight current against me. The instructor had to pull me and swam together to get back. As an Advanced Adventurer, I was not supposed to be assisted by the instructor. I was told to practice kicking and more swimming skills. Thus, I regretted quitting swimming lessons when I was young and did not swim much ever since (and no sports, as my legs were quite weak).

After the dive, we quickly debriefed and I hastily jotted down anything that was important onto my dive book. As soon as we got back to the dive shop, she congratulated me and did some paper work. I quickly changed, grabbed my belongings, and jumped onto the back of the vehicle along with other new students off to their afternoon dives.

*****

Featured image

At the pier, I watched them set off to their journey and waved good bye. I took pictures of the blue Roctopus boat and the Thai operator who untied the rope anchoring the boat. I rested at the waiting area at the pier for the ferry for about 3 hours as I was there since it was 11:30AM when I got there and the ferry departure was not until 2:45PM.

While at the waiting area, I talked to two solo random people shortly after I settled. The first person I talked to was a well-built man with two dive bags. I figured he was probably a diving instructor and I was right. He was from Belgium and he worked at a dive shop owned by Belgian, called Pimp My Dive, located near the pier. He was eating sandwich and drinking mango juice (which I really wanted to try but never tried due to cash shortage) while waiting for his students as they were scheduled to set off on their diving boat the boat. The students were supposed to meet him at 12PM but did not show up, and it was already 11:50AM. The instructor carried the dive bags and I think he went back to the dive shop to make sure that the students know where to meet. I did not see him after that. The second person I talked to, which was few minutes after we separated, was a solo traveler studying Koh Tao map behind where I was sitting. I think she said she was from Netherlands (or UK?) and she just got to Koh Tao two days (or one day) prior. We talked a bit on our travels until she had to go to a café to meet her friends, which I think she said she met them on the island or during her travel.

I did nothing until the time to board the ferry and tried to relax with high intensity watching over my belongings as I was aware of high theft rates in Thailand, although I did not feel such danger on the island of tourists. At about 30 mins before the ferry was set to depart, I noticed there was a huge traffic of people near the boarding place. I actually did not know where to get the ferry ticket that I had to show my E-ticket to the ticket office. I eventually saw an Asian couple walking towards me and asked them where the ticket office was. These two Asians just arrived in Koh Tao. I asked where they were from and they were from Japan. They were from Yokohama, a city called Shin-Yokohama, about 30 min from my home. They were also here in Koh Tao for 4 day scuba diving, while on vacation, just like me. They would stay and dive with a Japanese-speaking dive shop. I talked to them in Japanese after asking them in English. I talked to them all in Japanese. The wife spoked in Japanese but the husband kept talking in English to me, probably because of my foreign accent. I had difficulty understanding his English. I insisted him talk to me in Japanese, but he just remained in English mode. I asked them to look after my belongings since I trusted Japanese, while I went to the ticket office to get the ticket, which they did.

I lined up at the wrong waiting line at the ticket office. I assumed everyone was going back to Chumphon. This line was actually going to Koh Phangan (I think). I assumed that they were probably going to the Full Moon Party. I was surprised that the tickets were not sold out. I later learned that the Full Moon Party was a monthly event, not annual, and this was probably why. Eventually, I found a line with less than 10 people waiting for exchanging their E-ticket getting back to Chumphon. After I got my ticket and walked towards my belongings, the husband was looking for me. They had to go and I felt bad to keep them looking after my stuff.Once we reached the port, we lined up at another ticket booth to get our seat for the bus back to Lomprayah. By the time I set my belongings down at the bench and took the seat, a girl called me and I did not realize her until she mentioned that we talked to each other on our way to Koh Tao. It was the same Brit girl whom I sat along with two others and got photo taken, which was posted on this blot on Aug 23. It was quite surprising that we met once again, on the same boat going to and from Koh Tao. We even ended up sitting beside each other as our tickets were next to each other!

Flying fish.
Source: Scoop of Saltwater

It was time to get onboard. I went to the roof immediately after I got on the boat. Since it was very hot and sunny, many people went down to roofed areas, while a few of us stayed at the deck. Once the ferry was set off, it cooled off rather quickly. I was quite chilly; I had to wear my jacket. Once we were some distance off Koh Tao, we saw flying fish. We were very excited initially but eventually, we gave up looking for them and taking photos as it was very difficult to take photo of them as they were super fast. Two kids were looking for them for quite some time until we got to the point where there were no more flying fish jumping out of the water.

Once we reached the port, we lined up at another ticket booth to get our seat for the bus back to Lomprayah. By the time I set my belongings down at the bench and took the seat, a girl called me and I did not realize her until she mentioned that we talked to each other on our way to Koh Tao. It was the same Brit girl whom I sat along with two others and got photo taken, which was posted on this blot on Aug 23. It was quite surprising that we met once again, on the same boat going to and from Koh Tao. We even ended up sitting beside each other as our tickets were next to each other!

All of us, the travelers, were tired and sleepy, so on the bus, we dozed off very quickly while some others were still talking. Soon, these others stopped talking and slept as well. About 5 hours after the bus set off, we stopped at the same rest stop 6 days ago. I had some cash left so I bought a bowl of Thai noodles. It was not that great, to be honest. The taste was just simple, with just two fish (or seafood), two pieces of small beef, and a small handful of Thai noodle. I did not eat the fish balls because I did know what they contained, especially the purple ball. The Brit girl bought two apples and she gave one to me because one was enough for her and her friends did not want it.

By the time we reached Lomprayah, at 12:30AM, I told them that I did not have a place to stay and the Brit girl was surprised (or in shock?). They had a place to stay along Khao San road. I followed them until they arrived at their hotel (or hostel?). I wandered around and did not find an ideal place to sleep (outside), so I ended up sleeping on the stone bench outside Lomprayah office. Since Lomprayah office was located in a narrow passageway with lots of tourists nearby, I figured it was probably safe. Tourists were coming and going all night. I did not fully sleep, of course; I just closed my eyes with paying attention to my belongings meanwhile. During this time, a European even thought I was the clothes dealer (I was sleeping right beside a place where Thai was selling clothes merchandise) and I told him that I was just sleeping there. I was laughing a bit in my head.

That was a rough day. I woke up at 6AM and continued my journey until my time to ride train to airport. This will be in the blog thread ‘Koh Tao Aug 30, 2015’.

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